8 Tips for Eating Healthy on Campus from a Top Nutritionist

Expert advice to help keep your on-campus nutrition on track

Here’s the good news: if you’re heading away to college for the first time, there's no need to fear the “freshman 15.” As we've pointed out before, the notion of gaining 15 pounds as a college freshman is really a fallacy.

Most students don't gain weight when they go away to school, and those who do tend to gain an average of only two or three pounds.

However, as you settle into dorm life it’s still a good idea to be mindful of your diet. Because the bad news is that being on campus makes it pretty easy to develop poor eating habits.

According to Dr. Lisa Young, Ph.D. R.D., C.D.N., a nationally recognized nutritionist and an adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, the biggest dietary challenge that students face on campus is eating too much.

She says that many pay-up-front meal plans allow for unlimited meals or buffet-style dining, which leads many students to feel as though their food is free.

“That doesn’t mean you can just keep eating and eating and eating," she says. "Be somewhat conscious."

For many students alcohol is also a common caloric culprit. Aside from practicing moderation when partying (if you’re of age, that is), Young says, the best thing you can do to ensure healthy eating habits at school is to pay attention to portion sizes and maintain a mindful approach at every meal.

To lay out some guidelines that will show you just how to do that, Young shared some helpful tips for eating healthy on campus. Read on to find out what foods, habits and situations you should avoid so that you can focus on the foods that will best serve as fuel for your lifestyle as a healthy, active college student.

Avoid: Bingeing at the Buffet

“I teach a lot of classes with college kids and I counsel them,” Young said. “And at a lot of the dining halls it’s very social, so they just sit and eat and keep going back for more. They sit there and hang out, and they eat with one group and then another group comes in and they hang out with the other group and before you know it they’re eating again.” It’s not like you can’t hang out with your friends, though. To work around this habit, young has a simple piece of advice…

Instead: Chew a Piece of Gum

“Be conscious. Make the decision that you’re going to eat once,” Young said.  “If you want to hang out, hang out, but try putting a piece of gum in your mouth after you eat.”

Click here for more tips for eating healthy on campus.

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